A man Britney Spears dated during her darkest days has been fatally shot down by the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Mirror reports. Spears met John Sundahl at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in 2007, and he was credited with helping her overcome her drinking problems—he was in her life during her infamous head-shaving incident. He once said in an interview that he encouraged Spears to get sober for her kids. The two were even rumored to be engaged at one point, and there was another rumor that they had reconnected last summer—they stayed friends after their relationship ended.
Sundahl, 44, was in Afghanistan as a private contractor, "ferrying officials across" the country, the Mirror explains. He was flying a helicopter from Kabul when he was shot down. "John went there to try to repair the country," his brother says. "He was trying to help people, he would often say that the country was in chaos." Sundahl's body was brought to the US last week for a funeral and burial. As for Spears, "she is devastated," says an insider. "Britney thought he was a lovely man." As Sundahl's brother explains, "John was still good friends with Britney, he talked to her regularly. They dated for a while but always kept in touch afterwards. ... We know Britney's upset, too." (Another celebrity lost her ex-boyfriend under tragic circumstances.)